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Red Carpet Rewind: Fashionable ladies of the G-20

By Elizabeth Snead

The whole world has been watching the most powerful fashion show in history at the London G-20 summit. They might just as well have called it the Style Summit and done away with all the silly political and economic agendas.

We’ve gotten a fascinating look at how our new first lady, Michelle Obama, will be representing the U.S. abroad with her unique and affordable all-American sporty chic. And she’s definitely gotten more raves than outrage from the international press for her fashion choices, from J. Crew catalogue sparkly separates to Thakoon coats and Jason Wu dresses.

But it was also interesting to see how powerful female role models from around the world handle the pressure of public fashion scrutiny. And most of them handled it with grace and aplomb. There were no dreadful “hot messes” in the bunch.

But at the tail end of the week, Michelle even held her own against French First Lady (and former supermodel) Carla Bruni-Sarkozy at a NATO meeting in Strasbourg, France. And that is no mean feat. Of course, they both looked like they’d decided to be the dowdy one. Maybe neither woman wanted to look like she was trying too hard to win the Style Smackdown! (Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images)
Desperate G-20 Summit Housewives
Meet the First Ladies Club! Ready? From left to right, Canadian prime minister’s wife, Laureen Harper; Indian prime minister’s wife, Gursharan Kaur; First Lady Michelle Obama; Kim Yoon-ok, first lady of Korea; Sarah Brown, wife of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown; Margarita Zavala, first lady of Mexico. Why do we feel like we’re in the fashion version of the “It’s a Small World” ride? (EPA)
England swings
Michelle Obama arrived in London on the first day of the G-20 summit looking fresh as a proverbial daisy in a springy yellow Jason Wu belted shift and a black Azzedine Alaia sweater coat. It’s always wise to bring a wrap to London in the springtime. (Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images)
Low key
Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s wife, Sarah Brown, entertained the wives at the Royal Opera House in a knit lilac blue dress by Britt Lintner with dark stockings. Flattering, except when seen from the rear. Thankfully, not many of those pictures are floating around. Meanwhile, the wife of Mexico’s president, Margarita Zavala, was subdued in a gray wool dress and lilac jacket with silver chain necklace. (Joel Ryan, AFP/Getty Images)
Russian dressing
Sarah Brown looks fit in her blue stretchy separate skirt suit posing with the Russian prime minister’s wife. But sadly, Svetlana Medvedeva chose a lumpy lilac coat that looks a bit like a sleeping bag. And black pumps. Oh dear… (WPA Pool, Getty Images)
Minty fresh?
Marisa Letícia Lula da Silva, wife of Brazil’s prime minister, wore a minty pastel-green suit with a shawl collar and black collarless top to accessorize her husband. OMG, that button-covered grandma purse has got to go! (Eraldo Peres / Associated Press)
Cotton copy
German Chancellor Angela Merkel looked a lot like Hillary Clinton at the London G-20 summit, wearing similar hair and an orange jacket that looks ripped from the new secretary of State’s closet. Who knew Hillary was an international trend-setter? Or is it the other way around? (Oliver Lang / AFP/Getty Images)
Don’t cry for Argentina!
Christina Fernandez de Kirchner is the president of Argentina. And without this unflattering pleated floral skirt that broadens her beam a bit, she’s actually kind of a babe. (Frantzesco Kangaris / Associated Press)
Snow White
Let’s not forget to praise Queen Elizabeth (or is that Helen Mirren?) for stepping up her own G-20 style in a white tweed wool suit that plays up her snowy white hair. Is it true that if there’s snow on the roof, there’s still fire in the stove? (Ian Kington / AFP/Getty Images)
Checkered past
Michelle Obama wears a teal Jason Wu dress with a funky assymetrical plaid Junya Watanabe cardigan and Jimmy Choo green pumps at the G-20 inauguration. We loved the British schoolgirl plaid effect. The British press was less enthused. The Daily Mail called it a garish golf-style argyle pattern embellished with yet more sequins. It also decried the higher cost of the cardigan. Can’t please everyone every day, huh, Michelle? (Dominic Lipinski/WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Strong armed
Michelle Obama was the picture of a healthy, strong, independent American woman at an evening G-20 event in a white sleeveless top/ black full-skirted dress by Isabel Toledo. She’d worn a black jacket on top earlier in the day. But we love the sexy bare look. And Barack, you‘re not too shabby either. (Steve Parsons / Associated Press)
Flash in the pan
Michelle Obama sparkles in an embellished three-quarter length cardigan over a minty green straight skirt. Did we mention this is from the J. Crew catalogue? This snazzy outfit won’t break any banks! (Leon Neal / POOL / EPA)